David Bowie. Alan Rickman. Prince. Mohamed Ali. John Glenn. Fidel Castro. Aleppo.
Unrelentingly, unforgivingly, 2016 has extracted its toll. Soon, President Trump will be inaugurated. Beyond that, at some stage, in some way, almost half a century of UK membership of the European Union will end. Looking further ahead, the Global Catastrophic Risk Conference at the University of Oxford envisages an almost one-in-five chance of human extinction over the next century.
In the grand scheme of things, 1000 Trades is small beer. No bar ever changed the world. But we are having a good time trying.
If we succeed, it seems unlikely to occur via conventional political interventions. 85% of our drinkers voted Remain – it didn’t stop Brexit. We made quizzes great again – Trump still won. Adam Lent came to tell us that the era of big government is over – just as a wave of nativist populism seems to be breaking across the developed world, turbo-charging more muscular government.
We opened on 11 June. We got the keys to 16 Frederick Street about two months previously. At our launch party in July, it was a privilege to welcome the many tradespeople who helped us bring a cellar back to life and open a bar in time for Euro 2016. Against the expectations of most of those with whom we’d shared this aim.
Architects and solicitors, PR consultants and estate agents, friends and family; they all also played big parts in enabling this. We will always be in their debt.
Since opening, further inspirational people have come into the life of 1000 Trades. Some of them in our kitchen – Kebablyon, Salt & Earth, Pietanic, the Indian Lunchbox, Jazz Roast, the Vegan Grindhouse: food is the new rock’n’roll and we’ve rocked. Some of them supplying us with drinks – in addition to the joy of working with a host of craft breweries, it has been a blast to bring bag-in-box wine to Brum. Some of them cutting hair – Barberology, who we worked with on a JQ Fusions event, are a lot of fun. Some of them celebrating local heritage – Jon Bounds and Jez Collins making especially valued contributions. Some of them providing our furnishings – when Jay Blades wasn’t on TV, he was helping us, as Emma Miles, Tina Francis and others have. Some of them on our walls – amid the local artists that we have been privileged to know, such as the brilliant Quartermasters team, Thomas Parry has been particularly generous with his time and talents. In their different ways, Emma Wright via poetry and Steve Alcock, the lynchpin of the Birmingham International DJs, through song, have been equally so. We did NOW HAM and BIRM too.
We have been lucky also with our staff. In small teams, everyone is crucial. And Matt, Frankie, Will and Nia have all made big differences.
The dedication and professionalism of our staff, aligned with the magnificence of our collaborators, resulted in the Guardian describing us, “an unusually interesting watering hole”. A year ago, we were little more than an unusually interesting pipedream. So, 2016 has not been all bad.
We end the year with so much to be grateful for. Initially, we were amazed that we had any customers and it remains a constant thrill to serve – thank you. In 2017, we’ll strive for further ways to.